When it comes to weight loss, reaching a plateau can be one of the most frustrating things you'll have to deal with. Not only does reaching a plateau put a stop to the weight loss progress, but it can also really wreak havoc on a dieter's motivation to continue on.
A weight loss plateau refers to a point at which the progress of weight loss slows down, or comes to a complete standstill. This usually occurs after an initial period of weight loss. After losing some of the excess weight, the body essentially pulls at the reigns and says wait a minute, let's just hang on a second.
The reason for weight loss plateaus is that the body is not really designed to want to lose weight. In our hunter and gatherer days, the body developed to hang on to fat stores during the feast times in order to survive the leaner famine times.
The way the body works therefore is as an efficient machine. When you keep eating and exercising the same amount, even when this is in the right ratio to promote weight loss, after a time the body essentially adjusts itself.
The metabolic processes of the body simply slow down in order to compensate for the lower intake of calories or the higher caloric burn. This magically efficient machinery is however incredibly frustrating for those seeking to lose weight.
In order to beat this system, you'll therefore have to really mix things up and surprise your body with a good deal of variation. Below are just some suggestions for getting over the hump and continuing along your weight loss trail.
For starters, even though you may be eating fewer calories than your body needs to maintain its weight thinking this will yield weight loss results, you may actually have to start eating more rather than less. The reason for this is that in order to effectively burn calories the body needs to consume enough calories.
Sometimes dieting can result in decreased metabolic function. When this happens your body starts to hang on to its stores by reducing caloric burn. If you suspect that your metabolism has greatly slowed down due to dieting, you may find that adding in some extra calories into your diet will be the magic wand you need.
When you starve your body of more than five hundred calories a day, your body may start to lose lean mass. In order to take a good look at whether or not you may need to add more calories to lose weight, begin by calculating precisely what your daily requirements are.
For women, calculations should be done as follows: kg (body weight) multiplied by 23 = calories per day.
For men, calculations look like: kg (body weight) multiplied by 24 = calories per day.
These calculations will give you the approximate amount of calories that you need to consumer per day in order to maintain your current body weight. If you are eating more than five hundred calories less than your daily requirement, you may be eating too little. This could be the reason for your weight loss plateau.
Another potential reason that you're stalling out on your weight loss is that you might be losing too much of your lean body mass. This is related to the above phenomenon, but has to do with your exercise regime.
When dieting if you are not also trying to build muscle you may be subject to a sluggish metabolism and therefore a weight loss plateau. Because muscle burns more fat (up to five times more than your fat stores alone do), then it makes sense that having more muscle results in more calories burned.
If you are stalling out with your weight loss and haven't been doing strength training (or strength training plus cardio) then this might be your problem. A healthy exercise program will help to increase your muscle mass and this will enable better fat burning. Moreover, when you exercise your body will require more calories, so you might be able to kill to birds with one stone by eating slightly more (as per the suggestion above) and exercising more.
The combination of increasing your caloric intake and your exercise levels can certainly make a difference in combating a weight loss plateau. If however you are exercising like a dog and eating enough, you might need to add variation into your routine.
When it comes to exercise, our bodies quickly learn the most efficient way to handle the extra energy expenditure. Our bodies effectively adjust to the new routine and with time the routine itself becomes less effective for fat burning and weight loss.
When this occurs the only answer is to mix things up a little and unsettle the body. Changing up your routine by varying the time, type and intensity of your exercise can be a great way to move forward passed a weight loss plateau. So if you usually do a thirty minute run in the morning, switch it up and do some evening strength training with cardio intervals. Whatever it takes to make the body get unsettled and start to shed the pounds again.
Sometimes despite our best efforts, we continue to hold steady at the same weight. When this occurs you need to keep working with the suggestions above, but also remain patient. The plateau will pass and you will see weight loss results again, provided you keep to your program. Eventually the weight will begin to come off again. The worst thing you can do is to lose your motivation and go back to the unhealthy habits that got you overweight in the first place.